Explainer: About voting districts and stations

The Delimitation Directorate is responsible for delimiting (subdividing) the entire geographic area of South Africa into voting districts, with the assistance of a Geographical Information System or GIS (an electronic mapping system), which is managed by the IEC’s GIS Directorate.

What is a voting district?

A voting district is a geographical area that we draw to minimise fraud (registered voters voting more than once in an election), and to make administration more efficient.

Each voting district is serviced by one voting station only. You may only register and vote in the voting district in which you live. Once registered, your name will appear only on the Voters’ Roll for the voting district at which you registered. This minimises the possibility of a voter voting more than once in an election.

How are voting districts determined?

Voting districts are delimited to minimise voter inconvenience (voters having to stand in long queues at voting stations), and to assist us in logistical planning.

Voting districts are principally determined on the basis of geographical size and number of eligible voters. Urban voting districts contain some 3,000 voters located within a radius of some 7,5 km of the voting station. Rural voting districts accommodate some 1,200 voters located within a radius of some 10 km of the voting station.

What is demarcation?

The concepts “delimitation” and “demarcation” are often used interchangeably. For the purposes of electoral management, the drawing of (outer) municipal boundaries is called demarcation and is the legal responsibility of the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB).

The MDB also draws municipal ward boundaries and this is referred to as delimitation. The drawing of electoral districts (such as voting districts and wards) is known as “delimitation”.

The IEC’s voting districts do not have political significance (as do wards), but have been created for electoral efficiency and planning purposes.

Why do voting districts change?

Many voting districts change shape due to various geographical, population and political changes that take place between elections.

When delimiting voting districts, we access various data sources (topographic, cadastral, census information), including the Surveyor-General, the Department of Land Affairs and Statistics SA.

Before an election, our municipal representatives inspect maps of voting districts in municipalities in order to align the geography of voting districts with local geographic, settlement, demographic and political changes that may have occurred since the previous election. Voting districts must also be aligned to new boundaries determined by the Municipal Demarcation Board.

Our municipal representatives also locate and confirm voting stations in each voting district. This is done in conjunction with municipal political party representatives.

How do I know if my voting district has changed?

Check your voter registration status online. All of your registration details will be displayed, including your voting district and station.

If you have moved to a new home, you’re most likely in a different voting district. To find out, go to our online voting station finder and search for your street name or suburb. The map will display your voting district boundaries and the location of your voting station. If your voting district has indeed changed, you need to re-register in your new district (see How do I register).

Source: www.elections.org.za

staff reporter

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